Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield adds events to attract middle-schoolers

Saturday December 29, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The Boys and Girls Club of Pittsfield is vying to become a "destination" for middle school students on Friday nights.

This coming Friday, Jan. 4, from 7:15 to 9 p.m., the club will host its first middle school skate night on its ice skating rink in what will be a series of different social events organized for youths in this age group.

"What we’re trying to do is make this place more appealing, more available," said Peter Bell, executive director for the club.

After talking with program staff, students and parents, Bell said there’s a need for a central social hangout for youths in this age group.

"It’s about making this place a destination for middle school kids," he said.

Since the Boys and Girls Club recently finished a $3 million renovation to its Lighthouse space and facilities, Bell hopes to offer it up exclusively to middle schoolers at least one night a week. On Jan. 11, for example, the club staff is planning to host a dinner and a movie night in the Lighthouse.

In addition to a full-service café, the Lighthouse offers executive and general meeting and gathering spaces with retractable walls, multiple flat screen televisions and SMART Board technology. There’s also lower-level space dubbed as "The Pitt," which usually has ping pong tables set up for tournaments, but can also be used for music, karaoke, games and other activities.

"This could be a great hangout here on Fridays instead of the mall," said Tina Wixsom of the Lighthouse Café. She manages marketing and communications for the club.

Also planned in January is the second of nine scheduled Open Gym Nights for middle schoolers, each time held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The gym night will include a basketball shooting contest, full court games, volleyball, dodge ball, music, concessions and more.

Bell said he and the club staff are also open to suggestions for other kinds of theme nights and activities. He hopes by offering this range of events, the club’s younger members and their friends will want to gather in large groups there.

"They’d have a portion of the place, strictly for middle schoolers, that would be their space with their peers," said Bell. "It’s not as much about skating, karaoke or basketball as being about hanging out with other middle school kids."

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